Wednesday Night Bible Study


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Spiritual Disciplines


  • Probably the most common and familiar discipline that we will look at throughout this series is study.  We talk about reading and studying scripture all the time.  But do we really understand what that means?  It’s easy to sit down and read, but do we get what we are readying?  Are we truly studying scripture or are we just reading so that we can check off something on our to-do-list?  I know for me, I fall into the later category all too often.  We should be reading scripture in such a way as it becomes second nature to us.  We should be internalizing it.  In a lot of ways, study is closely related to meditation, because it involves reading and then applying scripture to our lives.
    • Deuteronomy 11:18-21
      • 18 “Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates, 21 so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.
      • This carries the idea of making what we read and study more than just words.  They are supposed to become our life.  We are to know them so well that we just follow the commands without hesitation.  Other examples of this type of thought?
    • Romans 12:1-2
      • Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
      • The only way that we can renew our minds like Paul is saying here is to be in the word of God and let it transform our lives. 
    • Philippians 4:8-9
      • 8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
  • We are to think and study the good things, what scripture tells us.  Again, this is more than just reading scripture, because if we don’t get anything out of what we are reading, then it becomes just a pointless exercise that we can check off our list of things to do.
    • Foster points out that true study involves four steps.  Repetition, Concentration, Comprehension, and Reflection.  We need to be able to look at the same passage over and over again, without distraction, so that we can truly understand and comprehend what is being read.  And finally we have to reflect and discover what we need to change in our lives in light of what we have just studied. We’ll get into more detail with each one of these in a few moments
  • Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves of the Discipline of study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties, and still they are not changed
    • If you are relying on all of your spiritual growth to be accomplished on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights, without studying Scripture for yourself, then you are going to stay malnourished. 
      • Tell story of Gary in NM
    • Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: Study. Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge fo the truth will set us free. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.
      • John 8:31-32
        • 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    • Without study, many have been brought into the most cruel bondage by false teaching
      • Matthew 23:15
        • 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as you are!
    • The process that occurs in study should be distinguished from meditation. Meditation is devotional; study is analytical. Meditation will relish a word; study will explicate it. Although meditation and study often overlap, they constitute two distinct experiences. Study provides a certain objective framework within which meditation can successfully function.
    • The principal task of study is a perception into the reality of a given situation, encounter, book, etc. We can go through a major crisis, for example, without any perception of the real nature of the tragic situation. But if we carefully observe and reflect upon what occurred, we can learn a great deal.
  • Four Steps we mentioned earlier
    • Repetition
      • Repetition regularly channels the mind in a specific direction, thus ingraining habits of though.
      • Even absentmindedly repeating something can ingrain habits. That’s why this is the first step of study. Repetition gets us to the point of being able to instill a habit, and get something out of that habit.
    • Concentration
      • If, in addition to bringing the mind repeatedly to the subject matter, the person will concentrate on what is being studied, learning is vastly increased. 
      • Concentration centers the mind. It focuses the attention on what is being studied.\We live in a culture that doesn’t not value concentration. Distraction is the order of the day.
        • Foster points out working with the radio on or watching tv at the same time as reading a book, as a lack of concentration.
        • For me, I have to study (read, write sermons, etc.) with music playing in the background.
        • Find what helps you concentrate.
    • Comprehension
      • Jesus reminds us that it is not just the truth but the knowledge of the truth that sets us free.
      • Comprehension focuses on the knowledge of the truth
      • We all have had the experience of reading something over and over and then, all of a sudden, we understand what it means. This “eureka” experience of understanding catapults us onto a new level of growth and freedom. It leads to insight and discernment. It provides the basis for a true perception of reality.
    • Reflection
      • Although comprehension defines what we are studying, reflection defines the significance of what we are studying.
      • Reflection brings us to see things from God’s perspective. In reflection we come to understand not only our subject matter, but ourselves
      • When we ponder the meaning of what we study, we come to hear and see in a new way
    • It soon becomes obvious that study demands humility. Study simply cannot happen until we are willing to be subject to the subject matter. We must submit to the system. We must come as student, not teacher. Not only is study directly dependent upon humility, but it is conducive to it. Arrogance and a teachable spirit are mutually exclusive.
      • Think of someone who has taken a course of study or attained some academic degree who parades their information in an offensive manner.
      • They have mistaken the accumulation of information for knowledge. They equate the spouting of words with wisdom
        • i.e. Sheldon Cooper, especially in early seasons.
        • William growing up
          • Book knowledge but not street smart, etc.
  • Study of Scripture
    • II Timothy 3:14-17
      • 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
    • Note that the central purpose is not doctrinal purity (though that is no doubt involved) but inner transformation. We come to the Scripture to be changed, not to amass information.
      • Head knowledge is ok, but heart transformation is the goal
    • I Timothy 4:7-8
      • 7 But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness. 8 For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

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